Landfills are carefully engineered disposal facilities, designed to combat the problems you can expect if you just throw trash into a hole in the ground. So rather than dumps, which are just designated areas to leave garbage, landfills involve inbuilt solutions to leaching, leakage, off-gassing, and more.
The Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) is the main federal law that governs solid and hazardous waste disposal in the USA. It was passed in 1976, as pollution from improper disposal of hazardous waste and the lack of a federal framework to ensure safe disposal became increasingly problematic.
‘Hazardous waste’ calls to mind glowing tubs of nuclear or biological residues. But in fact, every household and most businesses will generate some hazardous waste. This could be used lightbulbs or old batteries, residues from auto engine maintenance — or large quantities of sludges left over from complex chemical manufacturing, and everything in between. It all needs to be disposed of...
Electronic waste, also known as e-waste, is waste electronic items — electronic devices from DVD players to laptops to iPods that are no longer wanted, whether they still work or not. Everything from TVs to VCRs, LAN cables to routers, smartphones to flash disks, become e-waste when they’re discarded.
Across the USA, there are thousands of contaminated sites where hazardous materials have been dumped in inadequate locations. The EPA is responsible for cleaning those sites up and making them usable again. When the EPA identifies a site that needs to be cleaned up, it’s referred to as a Superfund site.
Waste can be broken down into types, based on how the law sees it and how it needs to be processed. Longstanding U.S. laws like 40 CFR part 261.31 define certain types of waste as hazardous. Other regulations define where certain types of waste have to be sent for disposal. Making your way through this maze can be complex, but it doesn’t have to be.